Physician Assistants (PAs) are health-care professionals who practice as part of a team with a physician. PAs exercise autonomy in decision-making and provide a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic services with physician supervision. The role of the PA includes provision of primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practices located in rural, urban or suburban areas.
The Shenandoah University Physician Assistant Program is a graduate entry-level professional course of study enabling individuals who hold baccalaureate degrees to become PAs. The program is designed to prepare graduates for primary-care practice with emphasis on service to medically underserved populations and the team approach to the delivery of health care. The program integrates graduate-level critical thinking and analysis, problem solving, scientific inquiry, self-directed learning and the effective use of modern technology for professional practice that includes elements of research, leadership, education and continued enhancement of the PA profession.
Looking for more information on the PA profession and applying for admissions? Check out a great resource the Physician Assistant Education Association has created for PA school applicants and other prospective PA students – PA Focus. You’ll find a wealth of information about applying to PA programs, paying for school, CASPA, and much more, including a blog that will be updated regularly. Another source of information is the Physician Assistant Career Guide.
To be considered for the Physician Assistant program, applicants must:
- Submit all application materials to the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) including official transcripts for all institutions of higher education attended and three recommendations. All applicants are asked to read and adhere to the CASPA Professional Code of Conduct avail-able on the CASPA web site.
- Submit official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing) scores from exams taken within 5 years of application. Scores are to be sent to CASPA. The Shenandoah designated institution code (DI) is 0414. The successful candidate generally has scores above the 50th percentile. Note: GRE test scores are not required if the applicant already possesses a relevant (science-based) graduate degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater.
- International students must have their transcripts submitted for independent evaluation of course-to-course equivalency through the World Education Service (WES). They are also required to demonstrate English language proficiency as outlined in SU’s Graduate Catalog. See Application Process and FAQs documents below for more information.
- Preference will be given to candidates who demonstrate a commitment to practice in primary care in rural or urban medically under-served areas. Candidates requesting this preference must do so in the form of a letter upload with their CASPA application. Applicants should include their rationale for the request along with documentation supporting the commitment to primary care practice in under-served communities. Documentation is best achieved by identifying and describing prior work or community volunteer experience.
- As a part of the CASPA application, candidates will prepare an admissions narrative, which will be evaluated by the admissions committee and must be considered of graduate student quality. Candidates should use this narrative to explain why they are interested in becoming a PA and demonstrate that they have an in depth understanding of the PA role in the health care system. In addition, candidates are encouraged to use the CASPA narrative to explain any aspects of their application that may require clarification (i.e., gaps in work or lower grades, etc.).
- Health-care experience (voluntary or paid) or observational experience with a PA is not required, but highly recommended and considered by the Shenandoah University PA admissions committee. This will also be documented within the CASPA application.
- To be considered for regular admission, applicants must have the following academic requirements:
- A bachelor’s degree from a college or university regionally-accredited by a U.S. Department of Education agency, or as determined by WES.
- A minimum 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) overall cumulative grade point average (GPA)
- A minimum 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) overall science GPA
- A minimum 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) SU Prerequisite GPA
A candidate with less than a 3.0, but greater than 2.80, cumulative grade point average may be considered for admission with regular student status if he/she has completed at least 15 semester hours of relevant coursework at the graduate level and has a minimum GPA of 3.0 for these courses. See FAQs for the definition of a relevant degree.
Applicants must complete the following prerequisite coursework (documented via official transcripts):
Human Anatomy and Physiology with labs 2 semesters/
General or Introductory Chemistry with lab 1 semester/
Gen. or Intro. Biochemistry or Organic Chemistry with lab
3 or 4 credits
General or Intro. Microbiology with lab 1 semester/ 4 credits Abnormal Psychology 1 semester/ 3 credits Developmental Psychology (Child/Life Span/Hum. Dev) 1 semester/ 3 credits Mathematics
1 semester/ 3 credits Medical Terminology 1 semester/ 1-3 credits
- In order to satisfy a prerequisite, courses must have been passed with a minimum grade of C at a college or university regionally-accredited by a US Dept. of Education agency, or as approved by WES. However, in order to be competitive, it is strongly recommended that prerequisites be completed with a grade of an A or B.
- Science courses must be current within ten (10) years of application. The program strongly encourages the Human Anatomy & Physiology prerequisites to be completed within the past 5 years.
- Distance education formats are strongly discouraged for the science courses that require a laboratory component.
- In some cases, work experience specific to the science course older than 10 years may substitute for repeating the course. Upload a formal request, resume, and supervisor letter to your CASPA application.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology sequence (A & P) should be taken thru the same series at the same university to ensure continuity and must cover all body systems. Comparative anatomy, vertebrate anatomy, functional anatomy, animal physiology, anatomy and physiology designed for specific disciplines, or fundamentals of anatomy and physiology courses are not counted toward the A & P requirement.
- Candidates may take anatomy and physiology as separate courses provided both have laboratory components, both have a human, comprehensive focus, and both have a minimum of 4 semester credit hours.
- If organic chemistry is taken instead of biochemistry, the course must include a lab.
- A medical terminology proficiency exam will be administered during summer orientation. Failure to meet the minimum benchmark will require a formal remediation plan to be completed during the first summer semester.
8. The PA Program reserves the right to verify credentials documented in the candidate’s application.
9. All applicants are asked to read and adhere to the CASPA Professional Code of Conduct available on the CASPA web site.
Early application is strongly encouraged. After the interview is conducted, the admissions committee may recommend one of the following based upon the collective judgment of the committee and a point scoring system:
- Admission Status: Candidates with a conferred bachelor’s degree and with all prerequisites completed will be recommended for full admission status. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in progress and/or outstanding prerequisites will be recommended for provisional admission status.
- Admission Waitlist (Alternates): A limited number of applicants will be selected as alternates and will generally be notified of their admission status by June 1. Applicants not admitted from the alternate list must reapply, if they wish to be considered in the subsequent year. Rank or position on the alternate list will not be disclosed to candidates due to its dynamic nature. (See FAQs.)
- Denial: Applicants denied admission will be notified in writing. Candidates wishing to be considered in a subsequent admission cycle must reapply and satisfy all requirements for that cycle.
Applicants selected for admission to the program must provide evidence of good health and up-to-date immunizations prior to matriculation. Prior to beginning coursework, students are required to authorize and submit to a criminal background check, including sex offenses and crimes against minors. Students may also be expected to submit to drug testing required by clinical practice sites or the program. Non-compliance with the criminal background checks and/or drug testing policies may be cause for dismissal from the program of study. In addition, students are required to maintain health insurance and liability insurance coverage. Further details will be reviewed in at the mandatory orientation.
Falsification of any portion of the application process, including the CASPA application, will be cause for immediate rescinding of the admission offer or dismissal from the PA Program.
Characteristics of Admitted Students
Class Admitted in 2019 to Graduate in 2021
Number of Applications
Number or Seats
Overall Cumulative GPA
Overall Science GPA
Shenandoah University (SU) Prerequisite GPA
Quantitative GRE %
Verbal GRE %
Written GRE %
Hours of Patient Care Experience
Hours of Shadowing Experience
If you have questions or need further information about financial aid, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
Through the generosity of alumni, community friends and foundations, the Shenandoah University PA program is able to provide several scholarships each year. Additional information regarding SU, as well as private and professional association scholarships, will be provided in fall. Candidates interested in exploring loan repayment opportunities through the National Health Service Corps scholarships should call NHSC at (800) 221-9393 or visit the NHSC Web site.
Full Admission Status
Candidates with all prerequisites completed will be recommended for full acceptance.
Provisional Admission Status
Candidates with outstanding requirements will be recommended for provisional acceptance. Circumstances which may result in provisional admission include:
- An applicant with a bachelor’s degree in progress. An official transcript showing the degree conferral must be received prior to May 31.
- An applicant who has any prerequisite courses to complete at the time of application may be admitted with provisional status. The remaining prerequisites are to be completed by May 15 with official transcript(s) received by May 31.
- An applicant with an overall cumulative, science, or SU prerequisite Grade Point Average (GPA) less than 3.0 but greater than 2.80, and who has completed a minimum of 15 semester hours of relevant graduate work with a 3.0 or better GPA may be admitted with conditional status.
The technical standards for admission establish the expectations and abilities considered essential for students admitted to the Physician Assistant Program in order to achieve the level of competency required for graduation and practice. All students admitted to the PA Program are expected to be able to continually demonstrate the abilities specified below at matriculation and throughout the educational program.
Physician Assistant Program students:
- must have the mental capacity to assimilate and learn a large amount of complex, technical and detailed information; to solve clinical problems; and to synthesize and apply concepts and information from various disciplines in order to formulate diagnostic and therapeutic plans;
- must have the ability to maintain composure and emotional stability during periods of high stress;
- must have the ability to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients from different social and cultural backgrounds and develop effective professional rapport with patients and co-workers;
- must have the ability to record examination and diagnostic results clearly, accurately and efficiently, in verbal, written and electronic formats;
- must have adequate sensory function to fulfill minimum competency objectives for palpation, percussion and auscultation necessary to perform a physical examination;
- must possess sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control and eye-to-hand coordination to use standard medical/surgical instruments and possess sufficient control of the upper extremities to meet the physical requirements for training and for performing a safe physical examination and procedure;
- are expected to learn and perform common diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (e.g., blood drawing, suturing) and interpret the results;
- are expected to have the degree of coordination of motor skills necessary to respond to emergency situations quickly and appropriately;
- must be able to safely operate a motor vehicle in order to transport oneself to educational experiences off campus.
- are expected to participate in program scheduled learning and assessment activities that may occur between the hours of 6 am and 9 pm.
- are expected to participate in clinical rotations that operate during all times of the day/night.
Upon completion of the SU PA Program, the graduate will be able to:
- Elicit a medical history
- ensures patient comfort
- establishes and maintains ethically sound and therapeutic rapport with patient (and/or family)
- reviews medical record
- recognizes and interprets verbal and non-verbal cues
- includes all relevant components
- adjusts according to reason for visit, patient demographics, etc.
- elicits psychosocial factors which may impact upon patient’s health
- Perform a physical examination
- explains examination procedures
- ensures patient comfort and privacy
- utilizes diagnostic tools appropriately
- assesses general status of patient
- utilizes the skills of inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation
- obtains vital signs
- examines/assesses appropriate systems
- employs special procedures where appropriate
- adjusts according to reason for visit, patient demographics, patient condition etc.
- uses principles of economy of motion, economy of time
- Develop a diagnostic management plan
- differentiates normal from abnormal findings
- orders appropriate diagnostic tests based upon differential diagnosis
- performs diagnostic tests as appropriate
- considers cost, sensitivity, specificity, invasiveness, appropriate sequencing etc.
- repeats or orders additional tests as indicated
- considers referral as option
- orders/performs appropriate screening tests based upon evaluation of risk factors
- makes informed decisions about diagnostic interventions based upon patient information and preferences, as well as up-to-date scientific evidence and clinical judgment
- Analyze data and develop a differential diagnosis
- analyzes subjective and objective findings
- recognizes diagnostic patterns
- recognizes impact of social and behavioral issues
- applies principles of epidemiology and principles of evidence-based medicine
- formulates differential diagnosis
- applies principles of triage; adapts data gathering and intervention according to level of acuity
- Develop a therapeutic management plan (acute and/or chronic care
- applies principles of pharmacotherapeutics
- considers patient’s overall condition including socioeconomic factors
- develops plan with patient (and/or family)
- includes non-pharmacologic modalities as appropriate
- considers referral as option
- ensures implementation
- ensures follow-up
- adjusts plan as needed
- obtains patient’s informed consent as appropriate
- makes informed decisions about therapeutic interventions based upon patient information and preferences as well as up-to-date scientific evidence and clinical judgment
- Provide patient education
- maximizes patient autonomy
- applies principles of adult learning
- instructs patients in health promotion and disease prevention principles
- assists patient/family with utilization of community services
- develops patient education materials
- includes family members as appropriate
- Maintain medical records
- obtains biographical data for patient
- documents history, physical examination, progress notes, orders, etc.
- utilizes proper medical charting principles to accurately document and record information regarding findings and care processes for medical, legal, quality and financial purposes.
- prepares summaries as needed (admission, discharge, surgery etc.)
- uses written, oral, and electronic communication techniques
- obtains physician signature
- maintains confidentiality of record
- Perform medical and surgical techniques
- performs basic and advanced cardiac life support
- provides wound care including suturing and removal of foreign bodies
- obtains specimens (blood, fluid or tissue)
- administers medications by various routes
- assists in surgery (first or second assist)
- performs basic office-based procedures (e.g. removal/cryosurgery of superficial lesions, ear irrigation etc.)
- uses principles of aseptic technique and universal precautions
- Utilize administrative, management and research skills
- complies with local, state and federal laws and regulations
- monitors patient care for quality outcomes and cost effectiveness
- follows guidelines for third-party reimbursement
- critically appraises scientific literature
- utilizes technology including information technology to enhance patient care & patient education
- regularly engages in active scholarship and teaching
- Demonstrate professionalism
- demonstrates clear and effective oral, written, and electronic communication skills
- maintains patient confidentiality
- maintains high moral and ethical standards
- works effectively with physicians and other health care professionals as member or leader of a health care team or other professional group
- demonstrates respect for individual and cultural diversity
- recognizes limitations and seeks physician counsel
- promotes the physician assistant profession and philosophies
- applies humanistic approach to health care (includes respect, compassion and integrity)
- adapts approach to patient care to environment and resources
- demonstrates emotional resilience and stability, adaptability, flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity and anxiety
- Acknowledges the importance of lifelong learning professional education
- maintains certification status
- keeps abreast of current medical/surgical trends and technology
- provides education to the community and/or profession
- keeps abreast of technological advances
- self reflects on practice in order to grow personally and professionally
- Demonstrates leadership skills
- advocates for patients and their families
- displays a service oriented attitude
- demonstrates servant-leadership for profession, community and clinical practice
- participates in education of PA students as mentor, teacher or preceptor
- advocates for and/or participates in care of medically underserved populations
- demonstrates initiative
Choosing SU over other PA programs was the easiest decision on my post-bachelor journey to PA school. From the first hours of being on campus for interview day, the sense of community and family support was palpable when talking with both current students and faculty. Coming from a background in music therapy, it was important that the program engaged in inter-professional education. The program not only does that but also creates a cohort with varied life experiences so that we continually teach and learn from one another beyond the classroom medical model.”
Bradley Bailey, PA-S ‘19
Faculty and students were so kind and welcoming. I knew I would not only receive an excellent education, but I would have the support necessary to succeed. Since being an SU student, I continue to be challenged and encouraged reassuring me that I made the right choice. I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a great program.”
Nicole Jones, PA-S ‘18
Shenandoah was my first choice from the very beginning when deciding to become a PA. The prestige of the program, coupled with the warm, positive atmosphere makes Shenandoah an obvious choice. There is a focus on life-long learning, volunteerism, and an inter-professional approach to medicine. I am confident that I will not only be a confident PA, but an overall better person after this experience.”
Amber Beckman, PA-C ’17
I decided on Shenandoah because of its excellence in pass rates, the inviting and friendly atmosphere from the staff and students, and the emphasis they place on outreach and global missions. I believe this university integrates my two passions: medicine and serving others through missions. They provide a comprehensive foundation for primary care and present many volunteer opportunities, preparing me to pursue my skills in any location or setting. Throughout my time at school, I constantly feel welcomed, encouraged, and confident that I chose the best career.”
Joshua Harris, PA-C ’15
I chose SU because of their superior dedication to provide medical service in rural or underserved communities. The facility, atmosphere, and welcoming faculty and students further led to my choice to attend SU. I believe this program can assist in taking my aspirations to serve the less fortunate groups of people to the next level, and I am incredibly happy with my decision.”
Emily Engel, PA-C ’14
SUPA allowed me opportunity to grow both academically and professionally. While studying occupied much of my time, I also participated in the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) nationally. I attended the AAPA national conference two years in a row, and was elected to several positions that showed me the inner workings of our most important professional organization. I was well prepared to join the Air Force when I graduated.”
Ricky Martin, PA-C ’11
Shenandoah University was my only choice for PA school! Approaching my senior year in college, I found myself wondering what would be my next step. Although I had majored in chemistry, I knew I wanted a career in medicine. Shenandoah University offered a friendly group of faculty and staff that encouraged an environment of learning. Despite the tough journey through PA school, it was all worth it. Not only did I attain a degree to practice medicine, but I also experienced the wonders of mission work in Nicaragua. During my second year, I served a vital role on the women’s health team treating patients and mentoring first year students. I currently work at the National Institutes of Health in the Undiagnosed Diseases Program, which requires a broad range of knowledge. I have no doubt in my mind that Shenandoah University has been the best choice in preparing me for my career.”
Candice Moreland, PA-C ’10
I was attracted to Shenandoah’s program because of the personal teaching environment that was very much the opposite of the large lectures I encountered during my undergraduate education. The University’s location provides a small town feel but is still in close proximity to Washington D.C. The Physician Assistant program provides many opportunities for students and having classes at Winchester Medical Center allows interactions with doctors, PAs, and patients at one of the top hospital centers in the country. Through the student society I serve as the House of Delegate’s representative in the AAPA and have the opportunity to represent Shenandoah University at the national conference. I am very happy with my decision to attend the Physician Assistant program at Shenandoah, and am certain that the program will give me all I need and more to succeed as a Physician Assistant.”
Marilyn Radcliffe, PA-C ’09
During my interviews for PA school, I fell in love with Shenandoah University The faculty, staff and students were so kind, caring, and willing to answer any questions that I had. Shenandoah University became my first choice. After being accepted into the program, I quickly learned that Shenandoah University would change my life. With the help of my professors and peers, I was able to gain the knowledge and skills that I needed in order to become a successful PA. I was also able to expand my knowledge even further on a medical mission trip to Leon, Nicaragua. Upon graduation I felt prepared for the working world. I now work in a primary care office in rural southwest Virginia. My patients and colleagues feel comfortable with my clinical knowledge. I would definitely recommend Shenandoah University to anyone looking to become a PA!”
Jaime Few, PA-C ’08
The comfortable setting at my interview, along with the tour of the facility, helped me realize that Shenandoah was the only place I wanted to be. So far, the program has offered me a positive learning environment and a supportive network of peers.”
Kelly Grubb, PA-C ’07
The curriculum at Shenandoah University provided me with all the skills I needed to feel confident entering the work force. I was able to obtain a position in the field of my choice prior to graduation knowing I would be ready for the responsibilities of patient care.”
Rebecca Rosemann, PA-C ’04
The admission information provides both the potential and matriculated student with details about the educational program leading to a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MS-PAS). It should be viewed as an adjunct to Shenandoah University’s Graduate Catalog and the Shenandoah University Physician Assistant Program Student Handbook, which contain specific information regarding the university and related policies. The information herein is subject to periodic revision and these changes will be relayed to candidates and students in a timely manner. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to be aware of all degree requirements and to work closely with an advisor to ensure that these requirements are fulfilled. Your success is very important to us, and we are committed to helping you achieve your goal of becoming a physician assistant. Please send any questions regarding the application and admissions process to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 540-542-6208.
The Shenandoah University PA Program participates in CASPA, the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. CASPA offers applicants a Web-based application service that will allow you to apply to any number of participating PA educational programs by completing a single application. which offers you the ability to apply to multiple programs across the country. [/toggle]Documents to help you understand our program and the application process for the 2019-20 admissions cycle.
Shenandoah University is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Locate the state in which you’d like to be licensed to practice, and review those licensing requirements (which may be subject to change).